For four seasons now, the three trends consultants sitting on the Maison et Objet take turns exploring the show’s theme, the result of collegial work carried out throughout the year.
The scenography for the Inspirations Space, located in the Inspirations Forum (Hall 7), will be designed by Elizabeth Leriche. The Forum will also house the Bookshop-Café, designed by Vincent Grégoire, from the trends agency NellyRodi, with the same theme; it will display a selection of books illustrating the theme.
Lastly, the Conference Space will provide perspective on the theme and recontextualise the concept within the greater scheme of current trends.
A haven from the roaring crash of words and images, silence lessens the impact of a crazed, busy and loud era. Home is where we find the quiet we long for, where we quench our growing thirst for serenity. Lifestyle and trends go for the silent treatment. Beauty parts with the superfluous, useless ornamentation, and centres entirely on the quest for what is essential. Lighter materials, geometric abstraction, transparency, halo patterns, thread-like structures, ethereal hues, black and white; those are the rules of formal silence. Uncluttered, simple, archetypal shapes allow our minds to wander off into contemplation and find some rest. Emotional, discreet and elegant objects restore our inner peace. Please do not disturb this poetic and sensuous, harmonious and luxurious minimalism. Hush…
Marie-Jo Malait, Editor-in-Chief of the Inspirations Book
5 Questions asked to Elizabeth Leriche
SILENCE is the theme of the upcoming January 2017 MAISON et OBJET PARIS
1. How did SILENCE come to be this Maison et Objet theme?
This new theme can come as a bit of a surprise: it is more closely related to societal challenges than other themes that the MAISON et OBJET Observatory have usually chosen to explore. But it quickly became an obvious choice. In a society where the impact of images and connections is increasingly overwhelming, there is an indisputable need for a break from all of that. As it turns out, it is not easy to materialise it. This trend was already dormant, as evidenced by the rise of lighter materials and minimalism, which we have been noticing for the past few seasons. These trends were the early signals that heralded this vital need for simplicity and the resurgence of fundamental values, which now constitute true luxury of our paradoxical era. In order to delineate the contents of the theme, we have investigated this need: Europeans say they increasingly seek silence. In the early stages of our research, we read a lot of books on this topic, including for instance Alain Corbin’s wonderful Histoire du Silence. “Silence is not merely the absence of noise”, he writes. “It is all but a forgotten notion nowadays. Our auditory marks have been distorted, diminished, they are no longer sacred (…). The intimacy of a place – a bedroom and the objects that inhabit it, or a home – used to be defined by the silence that prevailed there.” It is time we lost our fear of silence!
Deep sea, design Nendo © Glas Italia
Meditation stool © Michael Anastassiades
2. What did you choose to display to illustrate the theme of SILENCE?
In a bedroom, visitors will gaze at a painting by Georges de La Tour. They will watch a chiaroscuro video of a candle blazing in the dark played on an iPad, by Korean designer Heewon Kim. This example combines historical and digital considerations. Night calls for silence. But silence must not elicit fear, it should never be seen as a source of anxiety. On the contrary, visitors will find comfort in the silent contemplation of archetypal, smooth and simple objects carved from white marble: a perfect way of unwinding, of shedding off the woes of our everyday life. However, our intention here is not to sound the alarm; the message is a very positive one. Quiet and balance are the products of solutions we devise for ourselves. Silence is crucial, for the meditation it allows, the perspective we gain. The time we take for ourselves is the secret to our own balance. It is a state where two forces, sometimes contradictory forces, cancel each other out and we reach a point of harmony that we all yearn for, where we are at peace with ourselves. Rediscovering oneself while contemplating beauty is a comforting feeling. The installation we will present is an ode to wellness, a place of peace and serenity, a soothing journey to the happiness that balance and self-awareness bring us. A heaven unlocked by silence.
Modern human, tools by Elementary © Kotaro Kanai
3. Could you elaborate on the itinerary that you have imagined to illustrate the theme within this Inspirations Space?
It seemed obvious to us that the beginning of our story would have to be a room that exemplified this feeling of being saturated with images. Upon entering the room covered with video displays and television screens, visitors are immediately confronted with the formidable crash of sound, before they move on to be immersed in silence and find out how valuable it is. So, at the beginning, we are surrounded by sounds from all corners of the world, a clamour of car horns, an explosion of objects that collide with a thunderous roar. A chaotic mosaic that depicts the life we are increasingly subjected to everyday; an almost unbearable existence. Visitors are then expelled through a corridor and escape to another room. Before their eyes, the word silence – the E is missing the horizontal line – unfurls across the wall. To add the element of humour and anchor the installation in reality, earplugs are made available to visitors. “Traumas”, an installation by plastic artist Dominique Blais, explores a medical condition: tinnitus, an unpleasant ringing in one’s ear, a pathology that manifests in silence. A succession of rooms and recesses helps visitors reach a state where they can daydream, engage in introspection and feel the luxury of silence, where they’ll find an opportunity to listen to themselves. The itinerary ends with the bookshop – the perfect example of a silent place –, filled with white books, each with a white object between its pages, all hand-made by master ceramicists.
Vase of white clay with colera stone © Martin Azuza
4. You celebrate silence. Does silence have its own language?
Formal silence can manifest in different ways. In a room with walls covered with acoustic foam, visitors will discover a video by artist Cécile Le Talec. It shows a mute pianist playing a piece of music, in perfect silence. The story is told through movement, with the camera focusing on the expressiveness of the hands, which speak their own silent language. Then visitors move on to a room where they can put on headphones and listen to sounds we are no longer accustomed to hearing. Silence also conveys the idea of serenity. A video by Danish artist Grethe Sørensen (Maria Wettergren Gallery) immerses us into an inner world. The notion of time and our perception of slowness are questioned through a bookcase made from transparent, coloured crystal – Deep Sea, by Nendo for Glas Italia – which consists in stacked slabs of glass that create a gradation of blues. Visitors will also find at Maison et Objet some mysterious objects, such as a selection of handblown glass vases. The whole place is an invitation to pause and take stock of the scenography, to let oneself feel the passing of time. Around the central space, eight recesses, each housing a piece, give visitors the chance to become intimate with the objects on display. The artist Matteo Gonet is a magician: he found a way to trap clouds. A traditional Korean moon jar, designed for the sole pleasure of contemplation, brushes with perfection. Another recess shows wooden utensils used for the traditional tea-making ceremony in Japan. In yet another, a blurred halo evokes the idea of disappearance, snow and ice. The sensations brought on by silence are strong and deep; they find their roots in our innermost selves. They are quite simply put the gateway to serenity and happiness.
Moon, a project by Oscar Lhermitte and Kudu © Sidekick Creative
Schoemig Porzellan © Laura Muthesius and Nora Eisermann
5. From this journey at Maison et Objet through a land of silence, what objects should we keep in mind to improve our lives?
The Nascondino booth, by designer Pierre-Emmanuel Vandeputte, a sort of light-coloured wood structure with a stool, where users can sit, enveloped by a felt blanket. It is a wonderful solution to find some privacy inside your own home or around others. The same goes for the pieces Alain Gilles created for Buzzispace. There is an abundance of insulation solutions available nowadays, most made from composite materials, for greater versatility.
Secret, Blanche service collection by Jules Julien and TH MANUFACTURE © Francis Amiand
ENJOY: Covet House
What do you think about this Maison et Objet theme?